Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Transparent Medium of the Scriptures


The śāstras are basically divided into three major sections: karma-kāṇḍa, upāsanā-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa. The karma-kāṇḍa deals with the performance of sacrifices aiming at material benefits, such as rain, wealth, sons, the attainment of the heavenly planets, etc. The upāsanā-kāṇḍa deals with the worship of several devatās, such as Indra, Sūrya, Candra, etc. The jñāna-kāṇḍa deals with the philosophical descriptions of the nature of Brahman and the path of spiritual life . Thus one may claim that there is no direct reference to Lord Kṛṣṇa as the purpose of all scriptures, for they obviously are mostly dealing with the above topics. This is a valid claim, for we see in the fifth chapter of the first canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam how Nārada chastised his disciple Vyāsadeva for encouraging people to take to fruitive activities instead of directly presenting the glories of devotional service:

jugupsitaṁ dharma-kṛte ‘nuśāsataḥ svabhāva-raktasya mahān vyatikramaḥ

yad-vākyato dharma itītaraḥ sthito na manyate tasya nivāraṇaṁ janaḥ

(Bhāgavatam, 1.5.15)

 “The people in general are naturally inclined to enjoy, and you have encouraged them in that way in the name of religion. This is verily condemned and is quite unreasonable. Because they are guided under your instructions, they will accept such activities in the name of religion and will hardly care for prohibitions.”

Although different sections of the śāstras contain innumerable statements that might apparently be directly related to the Supreme Lord, they present Him as the ultimate purpose behind everything, not as the immediate beneficiary. For example, by performing a sacrifice, upon attaining its fruits, one may feel increased faith in the scriptures and thus develop a taste to study them more scrutinizingly. By learning from them about the distinction between the material and the spiritual nature and how all the material results obtained by those sacrifices are perishable, one may feel inclined to search for something superior and inexhaustible. Moreover, one of the results of the proper performance of the sacrificial rites prescribed in the Vedas is the purification of one’s mind, which is a pre-requirement for progressing towards God realization . Similarly, by worshipping different demigods, one may understand that the universe is run by a hierarchy of beings, so it is natural to conclude that there must be a being who predominates over all the other beings, the Supreme Lord of all, or God. The descriptions about Brahman and the ātmā in the jñāna-kāṇḍa are meant to give sufficient knowledge about the spiritual nature so that one may obtain a philosophical basis to understand the spiritual nature of the Personality of Godhead, Who is the original source of both the impersonal Brahman and the individual soul. The Bhāgavatam, however, corroborates that the Lord is behind everything, and directly points to Him as the goal of all activities, instructing that it is better to take to His devotional service instead of going through the indirect paths.

Thus, it is proved that directly or indirectly Lord Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate aim behind all the different scriptures, as clearly declared by the śruti and smṛti in the following words:

yo ‘sau sarvair vedair gīyate (Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad, 27)

"The Supreme Lord is glorified by all the Vedas."

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca

vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

(Bhagavad-gītā, 15.15)

“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.’’

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